ROBA and ROBA Trust

ROBA (Rimcollian Old Boys Association) was registered with the Registrar of Societies a few years ago. The senior most serving officer, preferably in Delhi, is designated as the President. The current President is Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff. The aim of the ROBA was to bring about an espirit de corps amongst Rimcollians and to provide welfare measures to the Class III and IV staff at the school.  The Association is also registered with the Income Tax authorities and covered under section 80G of the IT Act.

There is an often asked question why we have two different organisations - ROBA and ROBA Trust. Why do we not merge the two and what is the difference?

First the TRUST and REGIMENTAL FUNDS

In 1994 when Col Dilip Parab was the Commandant, the funds available to the RIMC as its Regimental Funds were about Rs. 3.0 lacs. The question that arose was, ‘Why, after nearly 72 years of RIMC’s existence this was the state?’. This is a question that some mandarins amongst you may want to attempt to answer but we were aghast and determined that we could not let that state of penury to continue. Then under the tutelage of Gen. Sharma, we embarked on a journey which is something as mentioned in the next few paragraphs, which we write from memory and while mainly correct, there may be some insignificant points where we may be marginally incorrect but that will not alter the narrative or its content or meaning.

When Col Parab handed over to Col Mamgain, the availability of the Regimental Funds had increased to Rs. 18.0 lacs!! How? There was now a consciousness that we needed money so that the RIMC could do more for the cadets.

It was realized that the way forward was by a) setting up a trust and b) persuading the powers that be to provide RIMC with Regimental Funds.

In 1995, the setting up of ROBA Trust was expedited as Mr. Catchpole was ready to donate Rs. 15.0 lacs, only on the condition that the RIMC have an ‘educational trust’ for furthering education of the cadets. He made an additional sum available to build an abode for him to live in his last years. Alas, when the Catchpole Guest House was ready, Mr. Catchpole regrettably had gone to meet his maker.

  • After consulting some Foundations, we were advised that it was only to an educational trust that a corporate entity would donate and not just to a society of Rimcollians, however well-meaning they may be. Knowing the limited ability of those in Services with salaries as in 1995, we knew that we had to go out to those who would donate. We had to set up the Trust with its aims and objectives clearly enunciated as an educational trust which would find resonance with those whom we may approach for donations. In hindsight, we are happy that we listened to our experienced well-wishers because we were able to receive the munificence of some business houses.
  • Soon after we had the Trust in place, we reached KCMET and TATA Trusts. We are happy that we succeeded in collecting funds. These funds were a shot in the arm for a fledging entity like ROBA Trust which also buoyed our spirits and convinced us that we were on the right track and also because the faith reposed in us by Mr. Catchpole was justified.
  • Now, the catchwords were, “money is power to do things” and “power is having money to do”. Lest anyone have the wrong notion or idea or impression of what we mean, power here relates to what the Rimcollians together can do for their alma mater.
  • Col. Parab was persuaded to hike the cost of College Prospectus from a very meagre sum that barely covered the cost of printing. The contribution of the Prospectus amount to the Regimental Funds is now a lot more substantial.
  • After that the sentiment about funds and the mind set was now changed. The Sub Area Commander sent in Station Canteen profits to augment the RIMC Regimental Fund. This corpus is now Rs. 2.65 crore plus, while the Trust Funds have grown to a similar amount – a long way from a meager Rs. 3 lacs in 1994.

We have explained the circumstances why we set up the Trust. Till 1995, when the Trust was set up, ROBA was an informal body but its objectives since its inception under Gen Thimayya as the President and Col Bewoor, as the Secretary have remained unchanged and continue to guide us. Unchanged, because we all collectively consider the aims as non-negotiable.

There was a need for formalizing this body. The requirement of what the RIMC wanted and what the Trust did not have as its objectives was the welfare of other staff who are as important as the teaching faculty. Thus, while framing the objectives of ROBA, the welfare of the staff as an objective was an aim. The word welfare in the MOA and its connotation allowed us to apply for approval u/s 80 that any contribution to ROBA is exempt up to 50% for purposes of Income Tax. So, there has been a thought put in this.

In setting up ROBA, over a period of time, we were able to bring in the funds lying in an informal way in more than one account which were about Rs. 3.0 lacs as against a little more than 26.0 lacs plus that we now have.